With Spring in the air, there’s never been a better time to dust off your ESG strategy and breathe a little life into its ambition. In all honesty, time invested in improving your organisation’s approach to ESG and sustainability is never wasted – but 2023 is the year that we certainly predict it paying particular dividends.
In recent years – and specifically in the last five, with the incalculable impact of the global pandemic, environmental crisis after environmental crisis and the rise of many prominent social justice issues – we’ve seen ESG catapulted to the forefront of public mind.
When we look back on 2022 and the many headline events, from catastrophic flooding through to wildfires, famine and war, it’s not hard to see why the pressure for companies to align themselves with honest, altruistic policies designed to create real positive impact is mounting.
Ready to spring clean your organisation’s ESG and Sustainability strategy? Here are five tips from KindLink that will help ensure a successful, supportive year.
New Year, New Approach To ESG
Before you take a look at the actual components of your ESG strategy, we recommend taking a step back and assessing your organisation’s overall approach and attitude to ESG. The days of this being a box ticking exercise are long since over. Today, amongst many other important factors, ESG forms a key component of investment strategy and employer branding. It’s a critically important element within your organisation’s overall trajectory, and as such, it needs to be approached with dedicated resources, serious consideration and a properly applied strategic attitude.
If you’re truly looking to shake things up and see some marked improvement when it comes to your ESG performance, you need to be ready to up the ante – are you willing to rewrite the “old ways” that you’ve always applied up until this point? Remember, if nothing changes… nothing changes.
By revisiting core components of your strategy – for example, revisiting the way that internal and external communication is planned to support your ESG success, or reworking the way that you track key metrics – you can unlock some amazing benefits. From finding fresh motivation and energy, through to engaging stakeholders (new and old) and raising the overall profile of ESG within your organisation, there is so much to be gained from refreshing your approach.
Remember – decisive action and positive changes now, at the very start of the year, will have the biggest impact on your EOY ESG reporting when you come to compile it.
1. Talk To Your Team
Taking the time to reimagine your organisation’s approach to ESG is a fantastic first step, but without the full backing of the people who make up your business, there’s no way you’ll see the true positive impact these changes can bring. Your employees are absolutely central to the success of your ESG strategy – without people power and the support of your employees, many elements of your strategy will be hard (or even impossible) to deliver.
Get back to brass tacks when it comes to your strategy and the way your employees feel about its current performance. Start by surveying your team to learn more about their general awareness of the work that you’re already doing, and take the chance to record their current state of awareness and engagement when it comes to implementing strategy and any success to date.
This research should be performed before any other significant strategy revision is considered – the engagement of your employees is the bedrock on which you build everything else connected to your sustainability and ESG efforts. Be sure that you remain mindful of this, keeping it as the true North Star of your ESG refresh. To learn more about how to get your team onboard and fired up about the impact and importance of ESG within your organisation, read our top tips on ESG employee engagement.
2. Rethink The Way You Manage ESG Engagement
Following on from the previous point, consider the ways in which engagement with your ESG strategy can be improved over time. When it comes to getting your team hands on with the more practical aspects of ESG, there are two sides to the coin: information and opportunity.
To successfully support both of these elements, your team needs to both know about your strategy and have a clear understanding of their pathway to involvement. Internal communication – both in terms of conveying opportunities and giving clear direction about participation – is the key to success here. In order to see the best results, communication should follow familiar digital pathways already in place within your organisation – seamlessly integrating into preexisting team collaboration platforms such as Slack or Teams. KindLink can help here, with the ability to add ESG updates directly to these channels via established integrations. Additionally digital widgets can be leveraged through KindLink to give “snapshot” updates across internal websites and portals. Individual KindLink user profiles also help to promote autonomy.
Keep the focus on empowering your employees to do more – by making the processes of learning about opportunities and creating their own easier, you’re more likely to reach and exceed your ESG targets.
3. Align To The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
If you haven’t already done so, consider using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a framework to structure your reimagined ESG strategy. Created in 2015 as a “blueprint for peace and prosperity” the list comprises 17 clearly stated goals, designed to end poverty, improve health, increase education, reduce inequality and support economic growth, while addressing the issue of climate change and protecting our forests and oceans.
There are several benefits from taking the 17 SDGs as a strategic starting point for ESG. Not only were they created on the back of decades of research and the collaboration of multiple countries, they are also universally recognised and respected.
When properly applied to your organisation’s ESG strategy structure, the SDGs can help to demonstrate that you’re making progress against key markers, and easier to compare your performance to others who are also making use of the SDG’s in their own ESG work.
4. Refresh Your External Communications
We’ve already covered the significance of investing in the success of your internal communications when it comes to your ESG strategy. Also consider the need for solid external communications to support your ESG’s success. Without a way of faithfully reporting your progress to the world, you will miss out on gaining deserved recognition for your efforts, as well as slashing the chances of enhanced investment appeal and reducing the chance of ongoing support.
Again, KindLink can offer a solid solution here, as the platform has been designed to support and amplify your internal and external communications with regard to your ESG activities and achievements.
A few key platform features which can help to ensure the news about your ESG efforts are reaching the right audience include:
The ability to allow your employees to connect their own social media profiles for wider organic reach.
Our impact stories feature, which enables the charities and organisations that you directly impact, donate to and support to tell the world about the difference that your help has made to them - in their own authentic words.
Clear reporting functionality, which streamlines the process of both collating and communicating your impact and progress to the wider world.
5. Set Clear, Growth-Led Goals For The Coming Year
Finally, as you revisit and review your ESG strategy, don’t forget the need to put some solid, growth-led goals in place. ESG is important but it needs to be sustainable for your organisation. As a result, aligning your ESG goals with your growth goals as a business is essential, and can help keep motivation high.
There are several key benefits to keeping your organisation’s ambition in line with sustainability plans, but most notably, it exerts a very positive influence on your employer branding as you place an equal focus on the “triple bottom line” – people, planet and profit.
This kind of attitude – “joined up ESG thinking” which sees the practice as something truly integral to the heart of your organisation, and not just a “bolt on” – can set you on the right path to consider something like B Corp certification, a well-respected scheme which seeks to make “business a force for good” in the world, and which is rapidly becoming synonymous with progressive, modern business.
Ready To Blow The Dust Off Your ESG Strategy?
We hope these five fresh tips have got you thinking positively when it comes to progression with your revived and refreshed ESG strategy. If things have been sitting stagnant for sometime and you feel as though your organisation is somewhat “coasting” when it comes to ESG, let this be your Spring wake up call.
ESG matters – more today than it ever has done. There’s never been a better time to take a fresh look at your ESG and sustainability strategy – your public and professional audience all expect great things on this count in 2023, so move now to motivate, engage and succeed. Set yourself up for success this year and far beyond with KindLink.